Book recommendation: 'Permanence'

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Thu Aug 18 2005 - 13:34:54 MDT

SL4 topics are of course generally beyond the limits of mathematical
proof or experimental evidence at the present time, so we necessarily
rely extensively on intuition, analogy and metaphor.

Given that, I recommend anyone trying to figure out what a nonhuman
intelligence would do, read the science fiction novel 'Permanence' by
Karl Schroeder. As a story it starts off a bit flat but improves
considerably as it goes on; be warned that nearly every scientific
detail in it is at least slightly wrong, so don't take it as a source
of regular science. What it gives better than anything else I've ever
read, however, is a clear feel for how, even within the domain of
biological evolution, processes that produce intelligent minds will
_not_ generally converge on _humanlike_ minds; and processes that have
created normative value in the past will not necessarily continue to
do so in the future.

- Russell

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